The diagnostic history for mesothelioma is mostly a study in failure. Symptoms exhibited by the disease were largely credited to some other ailment, or were ignored as minor inconveniences. More recent efforts have been able to peg mesothelioma in its earlier stages, when it can most effectively be treated. However, mesothelioma remains a difficult call, and both patient and doctor need to treat any suspect diagnosis as reason to conduct more intensive examinations.
As with most other cancers, mesothelioma grows through four stages. The earlier phases of the disease are the most difficult to recognize. That ability to remain undiscovered is perhaps mesothelioma's most dangerous characteristic. There are recorded cases showing that the disease is capable of remaining undiagnosed for upwards of 50 years. Once the cancer progresses to stage three or four, it makes successful treatments harder to employ. Any family member who has ever been exposed to asbestos must understand that chest pains, dry coughing and chronic lassitude demand immediate diagnostic work-ups. Let the medical experts determine what's causing the problems. Then work with them to detail an extensive treatment plan.
It is the accumulation of asbestos fibers, and the subsequent tissue scarring, that causes mesothelioma. The fibers most often are breathed into the lungs. They can also be ingested. Some of the earliest symptoms mimic those normally credited to other ailments. These may include congestive heart failure, breathing difficulties and constipation. One recognizable symptom of mesothelioma is when fluid collects between the parietal pleura and the visceral pleura. Healthy bodies don't have to worry about these pleural effusions. It is symptomatic of cases where mesothelioma prevents excess fluid from being absorbed into the blood stream or lymph nodes. This disease, known as pleural mesothelioma, is responsible for about 75 percent of all mesothelioma cases.
Peritoneal mesothelioma, second on the most often diagnosed list of mesothelioma cancers, attacks the tissue that surrounds the abdominal area. Symptoms of the disease that infects the peritoneum include nausea, vomiting, unexpected weight loss, fever, abdominal pain or swelling, anemia and fatigue. It is the rapid growth of cancer cells that creates fluid excesses between membrane layers. This creates abdominal pressure and the subsequent pain in that area.
The most appealing aspect of pericardial mesothelioma is that it doesn't show up more often. Fewer than five percent of mesothelioma patients suffer from this disease. Again, it is the build-up of excess fluids that pressure the lining surrounding the heart and create irregular heartbeat, chest pains, breathing problems, sweating or fever and fatigue. This particular cancer occurs so infrequently that its symptoms are not easily tied to the disease.
A real danger with any type of cancer is metastatic spread. Mesothelioma can spread. Researchers estimate that some 44 percent of all mesothelioma cases metastasize. They blame the cancer's ability to remain undiagnosed for much of that problem.
The various symptoms of mesothelioma should not be ignored. Complete the form on this page and let us advise you about who to contact.